During a meeting with bloggers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reported to have said the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is incompetent:
Well, I guess the President, he's gotten rid of Pace because he could not get confirmed here in the Senate. Pace is also a yes-man for the President. I told him to his face, I laid it out last time he came in to see me. I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.
General Peter Pace has had a long and distinguished military career that began as a rifle platoon leader in 1968 in Vietnam. He worked his way up the ranks and was sworn in as Chairman of the JCS in September of 2005. By that time, things had long since gone to hell in a handbasket in Iraq largely as a result of the policies of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The charge that Pace is a "yes-man" has been floating around for some time and was also applied to Pace's predecessor as JCS Chairman Air Force General Richard Myers. Both men are mild-mannered and worked more as subordinates to Donald Rumsfeld rather than as independent advisers to the President as has been the traditional role of JCS Chairmen in the past. However, the "yes-man" charge against Pace lost some punch when Pace publicly disagreed with Rumsfeld during a press conference:
On November 29, 2005, Gen. Pace was present at a press conference given by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, where Rumsfeld said that "the United States does not have a responsibility" to prevent torture by Iraqi officials. Pace disagreed with Rumsfeld, saying "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it"
Pace also questioned the Administration line that the Iranian government is supplying Iraq's Sunni insurgents with weaponry:
After White House officials asserted that Iran was supplying insurgents in Iraq with munitions, Gen. Pace questioned the validity of the claim in a February 2007 press conference. Specifically, Gen. Pace questioned the existence of direct evidence linking the Iranian Government to the supply of the weapons, explosively-formed penetrators.
Pace may not have been the most distinguished JCS Chariman in our nation's history, but the grandiose nationbuilding mission in Iraq that he inherited was not his idea. It was the creation of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and the cabal of neoconservatives who foolishly believed that transplanting American-style democracy in Iraq would be a cakewalk.
Criticism of Pace, and other generals like Petraeus, should be tempered and replaced with criticism of the people who are responsible for getting us into this mess. I honestly don't think the military was ever particularly eager for this war and the subsequent nationbuilding effort. They've been hampered every step of the way by truly incompetent civilian leadership like that of Viceroy Paul Bremmer.
So put a cork in it Reid, and direct your fire where it belongs. The military has enough problems right now trying to deal with the impossible situation that Bush has put them in.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!